Hill Has Best Night as a Sun

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital
By Jerry Brown
Dec. 3, 2007

NEW YORK - The Suns were expecting Grant Hill to be a valuable piece when they signed him a two-year deal at just more than the league minimum salary over the summer. But the bargain is getting bigger all the time.

In his best game with Phoenix, Hill scored a season-high 28 points Sunday, including the first nine of the fourth quarter, when the Suns turned a one-point lead into a boat race and ran away from the embattled Knicks 115-104 at a very testy Madison Square Garden.

“I’m feeling more and more comfortable with my role here and the way I can help us win,” said Hill, who’s happier with his decision to come West with every passing day. “Sometimes you need new scenery. Coming here is a great environment, great coaching staff and guys. It was a way to break away from all the ankle (injury) talk and my past and just concentrate on basketball and helping this team win.”

Hill took over while Amaré Stoudemire and Steve Nash — who struggled with his shooting but dished out 15 of Phoenix’s 37 assists — were resting on the bench. Hill hit 13 of 17 shots from the field on the night and added seven assists and eight rebounds.

“When he came to the bench, he said he felt like he was back in Detroit,” Suns guard Raja Bell said. “He looked good, he felt he had a matchup he could exploit and he did what he does.”

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Stoudemire matched Hill with 28 points and added 15 rebounds as the Suns opened a five-game Eastern road swing with a 37-point first quarter and closed with 30 more in the fourth. In between the Suns struggled on both ends. But some defensive energy off the bench from Brian Skinner down the stretch allowed the Suns to regroup and ride Hill’s run to victory.

“Grant got in the zone and when we have a guy who’s hot, we stick with the heat,” said Stoudemire, who was one of six Suns to hit at least one 3-pointer. “He didn’t look like he was 35 tonight. He was in flashback mode.”

Ex-Sun Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry led six Knicks in double figures with 21 points each. After the game, Marbury learned that his father, Don, had passed away during the game. Zach Randolph had 19 points, but only two in the fourth quarter and Skinner and Stoudemire held him to 1-for-7 shooting.

Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa had 15 points each for Phoenix, who shot 58 percent from the field and completed their second season sweep in three days.

COPYRIGHT 2007, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.